Combating Anxiety

Combating Anxiety

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If you’re feeling a little more anxious then usual at the moment you are likely not alone.

We all feel anxiety at times, it is a perfectly normal part of life.

Many people view anxiety as a bad thing. An alternative way to view it is as not a bad thing (uncomfortable yes, sometimes very uncomfortable) but not bad. Try viewing it as a sign.

A sign that something is important to you. A sign that you need to act.

For example, you might be at a train pedestrian crossing and the signals start to sound to indicate a train is coming. It is likely you will feel a jolt of anxiety. Not a bad thing. Just a sign that you need to act and in this case to get behind the barrier.

This is all good when we feel anxiety and it relates to actual life and death scenarios that threaten our survival. A good sign to receive and act on!!!!

Anxiety relating to coronavirus that is life and death related is a sign that you need to act (taking what action you deem necessary for your survival)


What about the times we feel anxious and our survival is not at risk?
Remember we usually feel anxious about something that is important to us however that ‘thing’ that is making us feel anxious may not be life-threatening.

In these scenarios, we should still view these (uncomfortable) feelings as a sign to act. The trouble is we often don’t act! Instead, we avoid, we dodge, we evade, we withdraw.
If you are an astute self- observer you’ll notice when you avoid the very thing that is making you feel uncomfortable, the uncomfortableness (anxiety) increases.

A couple of examples to highlight how anxiety increases when we choose to avoid instead of acting on our feelings, see if you can relate to your own personal life and behaviour at times.


Riley has an employee who is constantly not hitting their performance targets and a performance conversation is needed.

Riley knows it is going to be a difficult conversation and starts to feel anxious and decides to have the conversation tomorrow instead.

The next day Riley is feeling even more anxious about the conversation, self-justifies a busy day and thinks the following day might be a better time.

That day arrives and Riley is feeling incredibly anxious about having the conversation.

So why is Riley feeling more and more anxious as the days go by?

Every day Riley has two options 1) act or 2) avoid. By choosing to avoid they are sending a message to their brain that this ‘thing’ is bad. So the brain says ‘ok I’ll make sure this bad thing doesn’t happen’ and increases the level of anxiety each time you have the thought and up’s the level every time you avoid action.

The anxiety for Riley might get so bad they put off the conversation altogether. Not a great outcome for the team or individual. Without awareness and change history usually repeats itself.

Each time you choose to not act and instead avoid, the levels of anxiety increase.

Last year I was working with an individual who had built up a fear of their CFO (their boss’s, boss). They looked up to the individual and wanted to make a great impression. The first time they had an opportunity to talk to the CFO they got shy and didn’t go up and chat with them, they avoided the encounter.
The next time the big boss came to visit they felt even more anxious and overtime they had built up a fear of even being in the same room when the CFO came to visit.

After explaining the above I asked the client “What’s the likelihood if you chat with them that you will die?”

The client paused “I’m not going to die” and started laughing.

“What if instead of a work environment, you reach out and asked them for a coffee?” I asked.

For the individual, that will still a very scary thought but not as scary as the thought of chatting to them in the office with their direct boss and colleagues around.

It took all their courage and they reached out for a coffee – they acted. They also had a great coffee catch up and the next time the CFO visited they felt less anxious and went up and said hi, the time after that less again.

When we act on our anxiety we feel less anxious the next time

Can you relate to the above example with things in your life you have been avoiding due to feeling anxious? Perhaps it’s a telephone call you need to make to a client, a conversation with a partner, a chat with a boss you keep putting off.

This is not easy!!!!!! It is not easy to act. Especially for the bigger situations that are making you feel anxious e.g moving companies, relationships etc and for these bigger situations there are a couple of additional steps that should be taken.

What is making you anxious? What actions do you need to take?

Next time you are feeling anxious trying to view it as a sign. A sign to act.

Feel the fear and do it anyway